sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

June 29, 2022

tour de france knitalong: winnowing down the choices
posted by soe 1:55 am

The Tour de France and its corresponding knitalong begin on Friday, and, as usual, I’m down to the wire on making a decision. I thought I’d see what folks thought of some of these shawl patterns, all of which could be made from yarn in my stash:

From Summer to Fall uses 3 colors, with lots of garter stitch and sections of lace.

I have knit two Cally Monster shawls for Tour de France projects — 4-Ever in Blue Jeans, which I wear all the time, and my latest finish, Fully Charged. I considered Love Grows Here several years back, but decided against it that year. For the main color, I could either use the lilac I’d suggested at the time or the two mirrored shawl balls in gradients of green my parents gave me for my birthday this year.

I keep talking about learning how to knit brioche, and now could be as good a time as any, with something like Sylvan Tales Shawl, Sukha (which uses mohair as one of the yarns) or, more simply, the Feel Good Shawl.

Stripe Study is a two-color shawl, which would work well with some of the gradients I have.


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June 28, 2022

top ten books on my summer 2022 tbr list
posted by soe 1:22 am

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl asks us to share the top ten books we’re excited to read this season.

I love these quarterly looks ahead at what we’re planning to read, even if I’m not excellent at executing them (I’ve read two from this spring’s list and should finish two others this week). But what are lists like this for if not for an aspirational jumping off place?

So here are ten books I’m hoping to cross off my list before summer ends:

  1. Wayward Son, by Rainbow Rowell (Rudi gave me this as a Christmas present during the pandemic, and then I wanted to wait and reread Carry On before starting the sequel. I have yet to stumble across where I put it. Obviously the only answer is to take the first book out of the library, so I can get on to the second one, which is set on a summer break roadtrip, one of my favorite tropes in YA literature.)
  2. The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray features another of my favorite tropes — retellings/reimaginings of classic literature — set as a whodunit during a summer garden party.
  3. Flying Solo by Linda Holmes (Being from southern New England, I have a biased view of Maine as a summer vacation spot, which makes this feel like a prime season to read Holmes’ sophomore novel.)
  4. When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill (A speculative fiction adult novel by one of my favorite middle-grade authors would be an easy yes in any season, but I’m hoping it’s a little bit of a balm in a post-Roe world (how it physically hurts to type that!).)
  5. Ashley Poston’s The Dead Romantics is her first foray into adult romance novelwriting, and I’m excited to see her succeed!
  6. You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi is definitely a more serious romance, but has been well-received by people whose taste I tend to appreciate.
  7. People We Meet on Vacation or Beach Read by Emily Henry (Honestly, I’m not particular which of Henry’s previous two works I read. They’re both set during the summer and feature readers, and I am in. Plus, it should be at least a little easier to get one of these than her most recent book.)
  8. Rebecca Serle’s One Italian Summer is another setting that seems obvious for listening to while working in the garden or sipping a strawberry daiquiri in the park.
  9. Steven Rowley’s The Guncle (short for gay uncle) looks hilarious and heartbreaking in turns.
  10. Queer Ducks (and Other Animals) by Eliot Schrefer gives a scientific answer to that stupid question from when I was growing up: “If being gay were natural, wouldn’t animals be gay?”

What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?

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June 27, 2022

people-filled weekending
posted by soe 1:37 am

My weekend was lovely, filled with many of the people I love best in D.C.

Friday night, six of us who used start our summer weekends together pre-pandemic returned to Yards Park for a concert and picnic. As one of them noted, we’re going on 20 years of friendship, which seems like a surprising number given we were brought together by volunteering for a political campaign.

Saturday afternoon, I got a chance to play volleyball for a couple hours, which was nice. Then I headed out for the evening to a friend’s engagement party. Turns out my volleyball teammates are happy to hang until the wee hours, because most of us didn’t leave until going on 1 a.m.

We also had a friend in town from London, whom Rudi spent most of his weekend with. But I caught up with them for supper tonight. We hadn’t seen him in person in 14 years, but would catch up for video chats at the Super Bowl and on other occasions. (He called us the night of the 2016 election to offer his condolences.)

Honestly, I love weekends like this. I love spending time with friends and having something to do each night, even if I need to recharge a bit the next day.

How was your weekend?

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June 24, 2022

pick your own, good combination, and unstained
posted by soe 1:53 am

Rainy Day Blueberry Picking

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. Blueberry picking the day after a substantial rainfall is a very satisfying thing because it’s usually a relatively easy harvest. Apparently not many people want to go out in the mud.

2. I started listening to Aristotle and Dante Dive into the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz while driving out to the farm today. It’s read by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also read the first book.

3. I wore a pair of red wicking underwear under my oatmeal-colored shorts to play volleyball in and discovered that they turned significant patches of my shorts pink. Rudi took to them with some Oxiclean yesterday morning, and got the stains out for me.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world lately?

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June 23, 2022

fo reveal: fully charged
posted by soe 1:50 am

Fully Charged

I gave you a preview of my Fully Charged shawl, designed by Cally Monster, while it was blocking a few weeks ago. This weekend I took it to Connecticut to get a few glamour shots.

Fully Charged

I’m pleased with the result, although ended up being reminded once again that colors play weird tricks.

The combination, super bright on their own, have the effect of toning each of them down. The pink yarn is Periwinkle Sheep Watercolors in Hot Mama and the green is Kelbourne Woolens Perennial in Neon Lime. But without the contrast of the yellow shirt, I think it looks more red and yellow than neon pink and green.

Fully Charged Detail

It’s good to have last year’s Tour de France knitalong project done and dusted before this year’s race begins on July 1.

Fully Charged

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June 22, 2022

into the stacks: march & april (plus one)
posted by soe 1:16 am

First off, I forgot a title when sharing my January and February reads:

Beth and Amy by Virginia Kantra
In this follow-up to Meg and Jo, we get the modernized stories of the two youngest March sisters. Beth (in this version, Beth is named after Marmee’s sister, who died young) is traveling with a country superstar who, despite her crippling anxiety, brings her on stage every night to sing the hit she wrote for him. And Amy is struggling to raise the capital to expand her bespoke handbag business and with some guilt over a night she spent in Paris a few years back. They’ve both returned home to South Carolina for Jo’s wedding and to spend a few weeks sorting out their respective lives. This is a solid modernization and reinterpretation of how Beth and Amy’s stories might have turned out. If either was your favorite in the original Little Women or if you like retellings, this duology should be on your radar.
Pages: 352. Library copy.

In March and April I finished five historical fiction titles (Fortune Favors the Dead, A Rogue of One’s Own, and A Marvellous Light in March and The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes and God of Jade and Shadow in April), recorded here.

I also finished these titles in April:

Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
A trans teen runs away from her parents’ home only to face additional abuse from the friend she sought for refuge. But when she plays her beloved violin in the park, she is discovered by one of the most successful teachers of the last century, who also happens to be one soul away from paying off a debt to the devil. Meanwhile, across town, a mother manages her family in the running of a doughnut shop by day and commands their interplanetary exploration by night. When these three women’s paths cross, none of them will ever be the same again. Highly recommended for those who enjoy alternative reality stories.
Pages: 372. Library copy.

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
Lenni is 17 and dying. Margot is 83 and dealing with a heart issue. When they both find themselves in the same therapeutic art class, Lenni points out that together they’ve lived a hundred years. As they set out to document a painting from each of their years, they build a little family in their hospital community. You all know what a stickler I am for found family stories. If you are, too, I recommend checking this title out. It’s sweet and sad without being cloying, sentimental, or melodramatic.
Pages: 352. Library copy.

Shelf Respect by Annie Austen
Honestly, this tiny book is the sort of thing that you give book lovers when you don’t know what to give them. And it will make you think, well, I could have written this. But it’s cute and sometimes funny and will require next to none of your attention, making it perfect for times when you’re distracted and just want an eight-page essay or a two-page list about reading and books.
Pages: 192. Library copy.

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
When a recently graduated Miami senior loses her grandmother and gets dumped by her boyfriend and then has her best friend only give her hours before leaving for Africa for a year, she has a bit of a meltdown, causing her family to send her the English countryside for the summer. There, she finds herself baking for her cousin’s b&b (her family owns a bakery that she and her sister intend on taking over) and falling for the boy down the lane, who sells tea. Cute international YA romance.
Pages: 320. Library copy.

Yours Cruelly, Elvia: Memoirs from the Mistress of the Dark by Cassandra Peterson
In this engaging memoir, Cassandra Peterson gives a self-aware recounting of her life, from her early teen years as a gogo dancer and rock star groupie in Colorado to being a 17-year-old showgirl in Vegas who meets the like of Penn and Teller, Elvis, and the Osmond family to her years with the legendary comedy troupe, The Groundlings, to being cast as the queen of horror, Elvira. She recounts her assorted romances, including a year living in a tree house, doesn’t mince words about which celebrities are crap human beings (or which ones were utter sweethearts), displays a ton of business acumen about her brand, and maintains a sense of humor throughout. I’m not a fan of the macabre, but Elvira was a tv fixture of my childhood, and it was truly entertaining to hear her read her stories.
Pages: 304. Library audio copy.

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